6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2016 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/03/2016   
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LABOUR FORCE COMMENTARY FEBRUARY 2016


NATIONAL ESTIMATES

TREND ESTIMATES

Australia's trend estimate of employment increased by 11,400 persons in February 2016, with:

  • the number of unemployed persons remaining steady;
  • the unemployment rate remaining at 5.8 per cent;
  • the participation rate remaining at 65.1 per cent; and
  • the employment to population ratio remaining at 61.3 per cent.

The trend unemployment rate remained at 6.1 per cent from April 2015 to August 2015, before declining over subsequent months to 5.8 per cent. The trend employment to population ratio, which expresses the number of employed persons as a percentage of the civilian population aged 15 years and over, increased steadily from 60.6 per cent in November 2014 to 61.3 per cent in December 2015 and has remained steady since.

Trend employment increased by 271,500 from February 2015 (or 2.3%), which was above the average year-on-year growth over the last 20 years of 1.8%. Unemployment decreased by 31,700 (or 4.1%) from February 2015, with the trend unemployment rate decreasing from 6.2 per cent to 5.8 per cent over the same period. The participation rate and employment to population ratio both increased over this period (up 0.3 and 0.6 percentage points respectively).

The trend employment increase of 11,400 persons represents a monthly growth rate of 0.10%, which is below the monthly average over the past 20 years of 0.15%. While trend employment growth was above the 20 year average from December 2014 to December 2015, the rate of growth in employment for the past two months has been below this average.

The trend underutilisation rate (which includes both unemployment and underemployment) decreased in February 2016, down 0.1 percentage points from November 2015 to 14.2%. This decline was observed for both males and females, with the trend underutilisation rate for males decreasing to 12.3% and 16.4% for females. This predominantly reflected decreased unemployment for males and decreased underemployment for females.

The trend series smooths the more volatile seasonally adjusted estimates and provide the best measure of the underlying behaviour of the labour market.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February 2016 was 5.8 per cent (down 0.2 percentage points) and the labour force participation rate was 64.9 per cent (down 0.2 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted full-time employment increased by 15,900 persons to 8,192,600 and was largely offset by a net decrease in part-time employment of 15,600 to 3,691,500 persons in February 2016. These counteracting movements mean seasonally adjusted employment remained relatively unchanged at 11,884,000. The changes in full-time and part-time employment resulted from:
  • an increase in female full-time employment, up 14,800 persons
  • an increase in male full-time employment, up 1,200 persons
  • a decrease in male part-time employment, down 9,800 persons
  • a decrease in female part-time employment, down 5,800 persons

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased 1.99 million hours (0.1%) in February 2016 to 1,652.6 million hours.

The seasonally adjusted employment to population ratio decreased 0.1 percentage points to 61.1% in February 2015.

Employment to population ratio, Persons, February 2006 to February 2016
Graph: Employment to population ratio, Persons, February 2006 to February 2016



STATE ESTIMATES

Trend employment growth in February 2016 was strongest in absolute terms in Victoria and Queensland (up 3,900 persons in each State), but strongest in relative terms in Queensland (up 0.2%). The largest year-on-year growth rates in trend employment were in New South Wales (4.2%) and Queensland (2.8%).

In seasonally adjusted terms, the largest absolute increase in employment in February 2016 was in Victoria (up 30,300 persons). The largest absolute decrease in seasonally adjusted employment was in Queensland (down 5,800 persons).

The trend unemployment rates decreased slightly in Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and increased in Victoria and Tasmania.

The largest increases in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates were in South Australia (up 0.9 percentage points) and Tasmania (up 0.4 percentage points). The largest decrease was in Queensland (down 0.8 percentage points), with decreases also seen in New South Wales and Victoria (both down 0.2 percentage points).

The trend participation rate decreased in Western Australia (down 0.1 percentage points), Tasmania (down 0.2 percentage points) and the Northern Territory (down 0.2 percentage points) and was relatively unchanged in the other State and Territories.

The largest increases in the seasonally adjusted participation rates were in Victoria (up 0.4 percentage points) and Queensland (up 0.3 percentage points). The largest decreases in the seasonally adjusted participation rates were in Queensland (down 0.8 percentage points) and Western Australia (down 0.5 percentage points).

Seasonally adjusted estimates are not published for the territories and the ABS recommends using trend estimates to analyse the underlying behaviour of the series.

Unemployment rate, States and Territories, January 2016 and February 2016

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
January
February
January
February
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
5.3
5.3
5.5
5.3
Victoria
6.1
6.1
6.3
6.0
Queensland
5.9
5.9
6.4
5.6
South Australia
7.2
7.2
6.8
7.7
Western Australia
6.1
6.1
5.9
6.0
Tasmania
6.8
6.9
6.6
7.0
Northern Territory
4.3
4.3
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
4.9
4.9
np
np
Australia
5.8
5.8
6.0
5.8

np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated